Pre-reg focus

The pre-reg home stretch

Hayley Smith, pre-reg optometrist at Peter Ivins Eye Care, looks back on an invaluable year in practice as she prepares for the July OSCE


This time last year, I was a nervous graduate ready to begin her pre-registration journey. Fast forward to now, I am getting ready to sit the July objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) and be one step closer to becoming a newly qualified optometrist.

With only a few months to go, I am spending time preparing for the OSCEs. I have been looking into mock OSCE courses and am keen to try some of these, which will prepare me for what to expect and what is required to pass. Since the OSCEs are different to any other stage during pre-reg I am not familiar with the structure, so I think the mock OSCEs will be an invaluable tool in teaching me the format and tips to succeed.

In the meantime, I will continue to refresh my memory on core topics, including management of conditions, contact lenses, low vision and examination techniques, although this list is not exhaustive. Many topics can be applied to real patients in practice, which makes studying them easier, as it means I can picture the relevant cases in my head and remember how I managed them.

I am more skilled at the most common examination techniques since I perform them more often, however there are others that I need to make the effort to ensure I get the practice in for, for example Goldmann tonometry. I have the foundations and knowledge from university and Stage one and two, so my plan is to continue building upon these so I am well prepared ahead of the OSCEs.

Many topics can be applied to real patients in practice, which makes studying them easier


The final hurdle

I still can’t comprehend that I am approaching the pre-reg finish line. It’s amazing looking back over the past year to see how far I have come. Both my knowledge and my confidence have grown with each patient I have seen. Every patient has played a vital role in allowing me to develop as an optometrist, from the simple sight tests to the harder cases requiring a lot of problem-solving.

It’s fascinating to recall the vast extent of conditions I have seen. I never thought I would get to a point where I would feel confident managing complex conditions, but I am now at a point where these don’t seem so daunting anymore. I wish I could tell myself a year ago that it is true what they say – it does get easier with each patient you see.

Every patient has played a vital role in allowing me to develop as an optometrist


Value in every minute

Following on from this, I also wish I could tell myself that pre-reg will have its highs and lows, but that every minute is worth it. At first, I thought I was alone in feeling this way, but after talking to my friends who are also doing their pre-reg, I realised it was normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed during such an intense year. Being able to talk to people who were in the same boat made a big impact, and we have been able to motivate each other throughout the whole year. I have enjoyed talking to them about their experience, as everyone’s pre-reg journey is so different.

Overall, I can truthfully say I have enjoyed my pre-reg year and taking the steps to become a qualified optometrist. Having a good support network is extremely important during pre-reg, and I am grateful that I have been given that by my supervisors. They have given me so much encouragement and helped me keep my eye on the prize. That prize is now in reaching distance and pre-reg is nearly complete.